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Report: Trump Defense pick Mattis, transition team differ over Pentagon officials

Trump and Mattis are likely to work out any real differences

(NationalSentinel) There may be some cracks developing between the Trump transition team, the president-elect and his pick for defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

Foreign Affairs’ “SitRep” reports that Mattis is scheduled to appear today before the Senate Armed Services Committee “amid a bit of controversy” following the Trump team’s cancellation of his previously scheduled testimony before the House Armed Services Committee this afternoon.

It’s not yet clear what kind of fallout, if any, there will be from the HASC cancellation, but a source connected with the Trump transition team told SitRep that the incoming administration is attempting to limit Mattis’ exposure to the congressional committees over a rift involving Pentagon staffing after the president-elect is inaugurated.

“Mattis has asked to retain as many as ten senior Pentagon officials appointed by President Obama, the source said, something the new administration is mulling,” SitRep reported in its morning subscriber email. “Multiple people in contact with the transition team and close to Mattis have also told SitRep that the retired general has been frustrated by the blanket ban on Republican national security pros who signed the ‘Never Trump’ letters last year, which is severely limiting the talent pool. The Washington Post has already reported that Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work is likely to stay for several months.”

On Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters that the chairman of the HASC, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and Minority Leader Adam Smith, D-Wash., are “not happy about” the cancellation of Mattis’ testimony. He went on to say that “without prejudging [the outcome of the waiver voted to allow Mattis to serve, since he has not yet been retired for the required five years], I think you will find Democrats very wary of voting for that if Gen. Mattis has not testified before the vote.”

Thus far the Trump transition team, as well as the president-elect, have handled Washington deftly. And Mattis was an early pick of Trump’s to lead DoD. This all could be much ado about nothing, as Trump is likely to get Mattis confirmed and Mattis likely to find some way to compromise with his commander-in-chief.

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